It’s been 97 degrees for the better part of a week now. Along with the high temps of course, there is humidity. This is the south after all. So it’s been mighty hot and steamy…unbearably stifling. I shouldn’t complain. When I moved to “middle-earth” (three years ago today to be exact) it was 105 degrees for two weeks straight. I thought that Rocket-man had taken me to hell. I’ve gotten over it….for the most part. Rocket-man is in Arizona this week attending an executive course. According to his Clear Day weather app It was 113 degrees in Phoenix yesterday. I texted him back with one word: perfect. Yes. That is hotter-than-hell-hot, but as you all know, it’s a dry heat. Trust me on this. It’s easier to tolerate dry heat than hot and moist air.
It was almost 9 p.m. a couple of nights ago when I stepped off the front porch step ready to take The Poodle for his last business of the day. Rocket-man usually pulls this night duty. I walked The Poodle up the street for half a block and thought for a nano-second of going around the block to get in extra steps. I had quickly squashed the idea; It was still ridiculously hot even at that time of night. The air was heavy and stagnant, devoid of even a whisper of a breeze. It was eerily quiet in the neighborhood; not even a dog barking in the distance. Inexplicably, that made me nervous. I felt like I was suffocating under the weight of a load of wet wool blankets so I turned back towards the house. The Poodle moved slowly as well…as if through quick sand. I’d almost say that it was from his play day at doggie day care but I think he’s just as beat from the heat as I am.
I loathe this kind of weather. The heat and humidity drains every ounce of energy from my being…not to mention the fact that it makes it very difficult to do anything outdoors, which affects my soul. I’d prefer that dry Arizona heat. There, I routinely power-walked five miles every morning, even with the sun beating down upon me by late morning. The weather rarely stopped me from being outside. There was a time we thought of retiring somewhere in Arizona…that’s how much I love the desert. I’m not sure that is going to happen now. My head is in a different place, at least as of today. Unfortunately, a turn of events has managed to poison that dream. Simply put, at this writing there has just been too much stupid drama in Arizona to consider that a peaceful place to return to, let alone live without the constant reminder of all that was lost there. Perhaps that will change (Indeed, I’d like it to.). The passage of time manages to heal many things so I’m going to remain hopeful.
I’m turning to Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn to help navigate through this difficult period. It’s a big book to get through. It’s premise is that we can manage “catastrophe…the poignant enormity of our life experience” through mindfulness-based stress reduction. So far, he’s making the case for a meditation practice. I get it. I really do. A consistent mediation practice has real health benefits and there is growing scientific evidence to back this up. But it’s going to take some concerted effort for me to get past my current two-minute mark!
So, I’m trying to find a kernel of gratitude in this God-awful suffocating…smothering weather. I find that on this day (Father’s Day) I have to dig a little deeper than usual. It’s Okay. Some days are just like that, but fortunately those days are rare. There are folks battling much graver life catastrophes than I. I think of those two young kids that lost limbs in the recent shark attack…or the people in Texas sill reeling from the devastation of flooding….and the South Carolina community where a lunatic took the lives of nine people in a church. No one is immune from a life without a certain amount of angst, suffering and loss; inexplicably, some folks experience more darkness and evil than others. Why? Why? Why?…. always comes to mind. The “full catastrophe of living” favors every color and gender…and terrible things happen to people throughout the whole socioeconomic spectrum.
In the early pages of Full Catastrophe Living, (in the introduction to be exact) the book offers the challenge to live life as if each moment was important…as if each moment counted…even if (and especially when) the moment entails pain, sadness, anger or fear. I’m not certain exactly how a disciplined cultivation of mindfulness, particularly when in physical or emotional pain, will really help anyone that is deeply depressed or in great physical pain but in an effort to learn and manage my stress I’m more than willing to give it a go. I’ve got a lot of work to do to get past the two-minute mark, but like yoga, this meditation thing is a practice. I’ve got to get better at consistency with both…one moment at a time, I’ll see my way through it. I must.
After all, I am the captain of my ship and its up to me to navigate through the sea of all that is good, bad, and ugly…the full catastrophe of daily life.